Be angry! And sin not!Ephesians 4:26
Not so easy, huh?
The basic virtue is the fear of God. This is the beginning of all wisdom and the fear of God = passionate hatred of sin and intense thirst and hunger for righteousness.
(Proverbs 1:7,Proverbs 8:13, Matthew 5:6)
I don’t know about you but every time I find myself angry, it is not sin I am hating; it is the thought that “They are stepping on one of my rights!” I often have hidden “rights” that I don’t even realize lie dormant, waiting to trigger anger, until I find myself angry. I then ask myself, “OK what is the “right” I am clinging to?” I then give that one over to God to protect and handle as he sees fit. (Luke 12:13-15)
All godliness is impossible for me. For without him I can do nothing. (John 15:5) Ishould never say, “Boy that will be hard.” No, I should say, “Boy that will be impossible for me! However, I need to do this impossible thing, so please, Lord, help me do it.” (Philipians 4:13)
Proper anger is no exception, and, because it is the foundation of the core virtue, the devil will fight against godly anger and strive to make me:
Be angry and stuff my angerr and wallow in apathy and despair. (Leviticus 19:17)
Be angry and wallow in bitterness using my review of the details of the wrong done, to justify my own sin. (Hebrews 12:15)
Be angry and drag others into my bitterness.( Hebrews 12:15)
Be angry for all the wrong reasons. (Jonah 4:9)
Be angry and attempt to injure the other. (Romans 12:19)
Be angry and let the wrong done take my focus from God. etc. etc.
How can I tell if my anger is godly or not? Well, what is the “chatter” in my head? Am I focused on the wrongdoer being the true victim of their sin? Am I concerned about their welfare and on the price they will pay if they don’t repent? Would I be angry at God if he forgave and healed and blessed them? (Search for my blog on forgiveness) Or am I focused on their trampling on one of my “rights”?
Do I think that, “at least” I have a right to my time, my money, my things, expressing my opinions, my space etc.? There are many things that I would give my life fighting to defend, such as the freedom of worship and speech. However, these are not rights, they are awesome gifts from God and are always present on this earth in limited and imperfect forms. They are not things that I deserve but are undeserved gifts, ie. grace if God.
I often ask people if they would like to live in a FAIR world where all their rights were upheld. Many foolish people raise their hands. I then ask them to close their eyes as I pray, “Father, these people would like to get exactly what they deserve right now, but if you are going to give it to them, please leave me out of it!”
They quickly pull their hands down.
True, this world if full of unfair misery. Still my life is so full of unfair love and mercy which I would never trade for getting what I think I deserve.The trouble is that it is hard for me to picture the vast debt that I owe and the vast undeserved gifts I have been given. I often acknowledge these in Sunday school class but secretly believe that “I wasn’t that bad, certainly not the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15, Romans 3:10) and God really got a good deal on me!”
The analogy I use to help see my debt is: Imagine I degenerated into a cold blooded murderer and thief. (Most of the Bible was written by such) and am on death row, (justifiably). On the day scheduled for my just execution I receive a pardon from the governor. As I sneak out of prison in my filthy rags having no where to go and no one to take me in, I meet the governor on the front steps. He invites me to come live at the mansion with him and his family. I get there and am offered a shower and fresh clothes and am invited to diner with the family. At diner he says that he noticed that I have no one and nothing and asks if he could legally adopt me as his son! He then points out that, even with all this, the danger is that I might slip back into my old ways and offers to keep me at his side at all times to help me in my rehab.
Now, where would there be any room for demanding rights?
There would be none, just vast room for gratitude and being kind to others who wrong me.
“Lord open my eyes to at least a tiny bit of the reality that I am the chief of sinners, forgiven, cleansed, adopted and empowered. Then help me accept the gifts you offer and act in them.”